In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz explores a hypothetical Miami real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic.

A top agent at a Miami real estate firm has concerns about certain agents and employees having their birthdays recognized at office gatherings, while others do not.

Agent perspective

My broker and I have worked together for many years, and he knows I always speak my mind and tell him the truth as I see it. While I have full confidence in his ability to manage an amazing office and help agents become successful, there is one issue of concern I have noticed lately: that of recognizing everyone’s birthdays at office gatherings.

Last month, for example, we had two office get-togethers (our monthly meeting and our annual holiday party) where some people whose birthdays who fell within the month were acknowledged, while others were ignored or forgotten.

I realize this is not a pressing issue, but the oversight was definitely noticed and discussed “behind the scenes,” and I felt it was important to let my broker know. People were hurt and accused our leadership of favoritism and sloppiness.

Broker perspective

Our monthly office meetings are opportunities to get everyone on the same page, share important information and highlight outstanding performances. We also make a point to present a birthday cake and recognize the birthdays of that given month, as well as life events such as weddings and retirements.

But this is not as simple an endeavor as it may sound, for a number of reasons: We do not “take attendance” at the meetings, and we are not 100 percent sure who might actually be present.

We are a busy office with a fair number of agents and employees coming and going throughout the year, and there are people who simply prefer not have their birthdays acknowledged publicly.

These factors present a complicated mix of tripwires which can lead to situations pointed out by this agent.

We do keep a database of everyone’s birthdays, and as a rule, acknowledge them on our office calendar and Facebook page, as well as with a card on their actual birthday.

But also knowing everyone’s individual “acknowledgement preference” is a level of minutia I don’t think we should be expected to track. That being said, if we failed to recognize someone’s birthday at a meeting, and that person was sitting right there being ignored, we certainly need to do a better job.

How to meet halfway

This issue could be solved a number of different ways: at the monthly meeting, the office could announce all the agent and employee birthdays of the month (regardless of attendance) as the cake is presented.

The office could update their birthday database with an additional yes or no “acknowledge at meetings” field for agents and employees to complete, or they could simply decide to not acknowledge birthdays and life cycle events at all.

For their part, agents could support this process by discreetly reminding managers and brokers of their colleague’s birthdays once they arrive at monthly meetings, just to make sure all bases are covered.

Anthony Askowitz is the broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall, where he leads the activities of more than 180 agents. He is also a working agent who consistently sells more than 125 homes a year. In 2018, he was named “Managing Broker of the Year” by Miami Agent Magazine’s “Agents’ Choice” Awards.

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